Do Exes Really Ever Come Back? (ATTACHMENT STYLES)

Do exes really ever come back? More specifically, do avoidant exes ever come back?

Yes, exes do come back and yes, both fearful avoidants and dismissive avoidants can come back after a break-up.

Most break-ups are not mutual in that one person want to break-up while the other does not. The person initiating the break-up thinks it’s over for them. They are not thinking of getting back together or that they will come back.

They are not thinking… “I am breaking up with you, but we’ll get back together”. They are thinking…

  • I am not happy/I am miserable and I don’t like it
  • I don’t feel this relationship is working for me
  • I can’t do what I want to do with you around, I need my space
  • We’re hurting each other and I need to get away from you
  • I don’t like you the way I used to
  • I don’t see a future with you, etc.

They are not thinking of getting back together at this point because they are thinking of themselves, how they feel and what they want– and rightly so.

Even exes that say “may be we’ll get back together in the future” or “we’ll see what happens in two months” or “if it’s meant to be it’ll be” etc., are not promising that you’ll get back together. Rather, they are leaving the door open for all possibilities — including the possibility that you’ll go your separate ways.

Attachment theory provides powerful insights as to how different attachment styles will likely act after a break-up, why and how they come back.

Individuals high in attachment avoidance use deactivating emotion-regulatory suppression strategies that create emotional distance with an ex. Deactivating strategies have been linked to a greater tendency to breakup, weaker emotional reactions to breakups, and self-destructive coping strategies (T.J. Collins, O. Gillath / Journal of Research in Personality 46 (2012).

Individuals high in attachment anxiety have more trouble adapting to a relationship breakup and acting independently, and they experience greater emotional distress, anger, anxiety, depression, and loss of emotional control (Fagundes, 2012; Gilbert & Sifers, 2011).

Their use hyper-activating emotion regulatory strategies that include trying to immediately reengage with their ex and repeated attempts to get back together leads to unwanted pursuit behaviour which leads to a vicious cycle of repeatedly breaking up and getting back together. (Davis et al., 2003; Dutton & Winstead, 2006).

Secure individuals tend to face relationship breakups with greater resilience, acceptance, and emotional recovery than do insecure individuals (Madey & Jilek, 2012). They recognize both their attachment needs and their ex’s attachment needs and act accordingly using strategies characterized by open, empathetic communication, and negotiation about someone’s needs and desires.

They generally tend to experience fewer break-ups, use more social and less self-destructive coping strategies, and greater willingness to reunite (Madey & Jilek, 2012).

What does this mean for you asking, “do exes ever come back?”

1) Dismissive Avoidant Ex/Fearful Avoidant Leaning More Avoidant

It means that if your ex is a dismissive avoidant or fearful avoidant leaning more avoidant, the chances that your ex will come back is less than some with an ex high on attachment anxiety or with a secure attachment style. This doesn’t mean the chances of your ex coming back are zero, it just means the probability of them not coming back is higher than them coming back.

One reason for this is that avoidants in general, dismissive avoidants in particular tend to be involved in short-term dating relationships characterized by lower interdependence, commitment, trust, and satisfaction. When the relationship ends, they are ready to move on.

Over the years however, I have found that when the relationship is over 3 years, dismissive avoidants tend to be more open to getting back together and may even actively pursue a reconciliation. This is important to note, because it goes against all the information out there that dismissive avoidant exes never come back. They do and it depends on how emotionally invested they were before the break-up happened.

2) Anxious-Preoccupied Ex/Fearful Avoidant Leaning More Anxious

If your ex is anxious-preoccupied or fearful avoidant leaning more anxious, there is a very high chance that they will come back. Studies have shown that people high on attachment anxiety are more willing to stay friends with an ex to potentially maintain close ties allowing for later reconnection and getting back together. But their motive especially in times of distress is more self-focused and not necessarily in the best interest of an ex or even the relationship. So yes, your ex will come back but you may also break up soon after.

The good news is that more recent studies have found that attachment-anxious individuals experience greater personal growth following romantic break-ups compared to attachment-avoidant individuals. This may help reduce the chances of breaking up soon after your ex comes back.

In addition to an ex’s attachment style, there are other general and individual factors unique to your ex that may affect whether or not they will come back.

RELATED: 10 Factors That Influence Getting Back Together With Your Ex

My point is: Don’t be discouraged from trying to attract back your ex simply because right now your ex is saying it’s over and they’re not changing their mind.

It takes work and it takes time, but it’s possible.

When you feel discouraged and want to give up, these Incredible Success Stories of readers like you who got back their ex might help!

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  1. says: Odelle

    Yangki, I got my ex back using your book and articles but 4 days ago I messed up and said some things which made her upset and breakup with me again. I waited a day and reached out to her, she responded an hour later saying she’s busy and will call me when she gets home. She called and we talked and I also apologised. She wants us to continue talking says but she is now scared of getting hurt again. Can I still get her back or have I messed up so big that I pushed her to the edge? Please help, again. 🙁 Thanks as always.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Yes, you can absolutely get her back, but this time it’s going to be a little harder than the last time. The advantage you have is that she wants to continue talking. Use it well.

      You did before, you can do it again.

  2. says: Sarah

    I feel like Im stuck. Recently my ex got super drunk and said he wish we are still togehter and wants a family with me but with him theres no turning back. And now i feel like theres no hope left. Is there anything I can do? 🙁

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki C. Akiteng

      I responded to you before with advice, but if you still feel stuck, I am happy to work with you to see where you may be stuck. Sometimes a fresh set of objective eyes does help… 🙂

  3. says: Jefar

    Your website is so helpful and spreads such a positive message. My ex broke up with me two months ago after 5 years together. I still loved her but she says for the moment we can only be friends and see what happens. I have been applying your advice with some success. She’s opening up more and initiating contact more. We are going to a concert we had bought tickets before we broke up in a couple of weeks. We’ll see what happens.

  4. says: Nina Flores

    My fiance broke off our engagement because I wanted to wait to get married til he is financially set but he took it as called off. I contacted him telling him how much I miss him and want him to come back. Is that even possible?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      As the article says, exes do come back, but not in the way you are going about it.

      It’s possible to get back your ex but it’s a complicated process mainly because it’s about ’emotions’. It helps if you know what you are doing.

      Spend sometime here reading about how to attract back your ex.